NSC’s important decisions

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AFTER lengthy discussions, the National Security Committee (NSC), the country’s highest forum on security and foreign policy, at its meeting on Monday, chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif took some very important and concrete decisions which really insinuate the seriousness on the part of civil and military leadership to work collectively and with unison to deal with the multifaceted challenges especially faced by the country on the economic and security fronts.

This was need of the hour given the fact that spectre of default hangs over the country amidst the surge in terrorist acts.

Decisions taken with consensus, collective wisdom and sense of purpose always bear fruit and we are confident that the decisions taken at the forum of NSC will help take the country in the right direction, if implemented with the same sense of earnestness.

Whilst highlighting the fact that national security hinges on economic sovereignty, the NSC agreed on undertaking practical steps including imports rationalization as well as preventing illegal currency outflows and hawala business.

At these critical times when our foreign exchange reserves have dwindled to the level which can bear imports of just one month, we really need to cut down unnecessary imports.

These can be best discouraged through imposition of additional taxes on luxury items and encouraging the use of domestic products.

The smuggling of dollars to Afghanistan has really harmed our economy. At a news conference a few days back, Chairman of the Exchange Companies Association of Pakistan pointed out that about $2 billion goes to Afghanistan from Pakistan in the form of official and unofficial trade, misuse of Afghan transit trade, smuggling and through the borders.

This has burdened our foreign exchange reserves and checking this menace has also become a must to stabilize the rupee.

Then it is also important to ensure one rate of dollar both in the open market and the interbank as the difference in it is only promoting illegal hundi and hawala business because of which our inflows in the form of remittances has seen badly hit in recent months.

Realizing the importance of both agriculture and manufacturing sectors, the NSC agreed to pay special emphasis towards their uplift which, in fact, will ensure our food security, imports substitution and help generate employment opportunities for our youths.

By also adding the IT sector, we can really take the country towards sustainable development and self-reliance.

But this will only happen by providing incentives to these sectors as well as focusing more on the education of the youth in the field of Information Technology.

Improvement in these sectors will come through short, medium and long-term plans which are duly implemented with continuity in policies.

It is a matter of satisfaction that the forum agreed to involve all stakeholders for consensus to realize effective and fast track economic recovery and road-map.

We have been stressing in these columns that there should not be any politics on the matter of economy.

All the political parties while rising above their petty political interests should sit together and work out an economic blueprint which should be pursued vigorously no matter which party is in power.

If this does not happen, we will never get out of the debt trap and our economic problems will further worsen in the months and years ahead.

The NSC very rightly and vehemently delivered a message to those in the neighbourhood providing safe haven to the terrorists.

It declared that no country will be allowed to provide sanctuaries and facilitation to terrorists and Pakistan reserves all rights in that respect to safeguard its people.

It will be better for the Afghan authorities to understand the genuine concerns of Pakistan and fulfil its commitment of not allowing their land to be used against us.

Decisions to revive provincial apex committees and enhance the capabilities of law enforcement agencies, especially CTDs are steps in the right direction.

These terrorists which have no regard for any religion and humanity deserve no mercy at all and they must be crushed with full force.

These are extra-ordinary times which warranted extra-ordinary decisions. We expect that the NSC will also follow up on these decisions to ensure their full implementation.